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EN245 The English Nineteenth-Century Novel

light reading

Course convenor and tutor (2018-19): Dr Jen Baker (


** The list of specified texts you must purchase and/or read along with the 2018-19 syllabus outline, is available here. [You will get the most up-to-date, hard copy of the syllabus at start of term]

  • Here is the reading for Term One, Week one (which will be available in hard copy in September).
  • I will produce guidance notes for each novel, which will be uploaded onto moodle throughout the course of each term, but for now the guidance notes for the first few novels are on the right-hand side (you might want to make more spaces between questions, print off, and write on them, or type up as you go and then print).


The reading load for this module is comparatively heavy, as many of the novels, while very rewarding, are also very long. It is therefore a REQUIREMENT of taking this course that you read at least two course novels (I recommend, Belinda, The Antiquary, and then Gissing's The Nether World because week 10 is always a struggle) during the summer vacation. Given the structure of the Warwick term, I would strongly, strongly suggest reading more. I will level with you - some of you might struggle with Edgeworth and, particularly, Scott. Don't despair, there are plenty of other texts on the module that you will get on with.

If you would like to undertake some secondary reading, useful starting-points would be:

At least one of these three from The Oxford Handbook of the Victorian Novel, ed. Lisa Rodensky (2013) All three of the above are collected together here:
a. Peter Garside, 'The Early C19th English Novel, 1820-1836'
b. William McKelvy, 'New Histories of English Literature and the Rise of the Novel, 1835-1859'
c. Rebecca Edwards Newman, 'Genre, Criticism, and the Early Victorian Novel'

Delve in and out of at least one of these two: Both available as e-books via Warwick library.
The Oxford handbook of the Victorian novel , edited by Lisa Rodensky (2013)
The Oxford handbook of Victorian literary culture, edited by Juliet John. (2016)

This is a Pathway Approved Option for the English Pathway and one of the Distributional Requirement options for the Theory, World and North American Pathways.

Office hours: TBC
Seminars: 1X 1.5 hour seminars to be held weekly, reading week excepted.
You will attend seminars for one of three groups

Lectures: Term 1 - weeks 3, 5, and 8 (Room TBC)
Term 2 - weeks 2, 7, and 9 (Room TBC)

* Please note that seminars start in Week One *

Objectives and Outline Syllabus:
This module aims to explore the rise of the novel as both a genre and a concept, and the ways in which it develops in the particular context of nineteenth-century Britain, responding to rapid social change - and the possibility of revolution - and the correspondingly shifting understandings of class, gender, sexuality, nation and culture. We shall consider what nineteenth-century readers taxonomized the novel and invested heavily in what they thought its purpose and formula should be and yet simultaneously defamiliarized it. So too, we will consider the C19th novel outside its historical context, and as subject to multiplicitous critical readings. The module traverses a range of various styles such as "social realism", “sensationalism”, “historical fiction”, “fantasy”, and cover topics such as masculinity, the new woman, sexuality, childhood, landscapes, Empire, dialogues between image and text, evolution, and illness. Novelists and texts from the popular to the literary, from the canonical to those often overlooked post-1900.


  • Two x 2,500-word essays 
  • 2 hour examination.

Deadlines will be confirmed on your personal tabula.

If you are an exchange student and studying for the full year, then your assessment requirements are as detailed above. If you are an exchange student studying this module for one term only, then you are required to submit an essay (word count TBC) on the last Tuesday of the term you complete.

Information on the submission of essays can be found here.

Information on referencing here

The marking criteria


Guidance Notes for Reading:


The Antiquary

Mary Barton (coming soon)

David Copperfield (coming soon)

Silas Marner (coming soon)

The Nether World (coming soon)

Secondary Reading:

All recommendations for secondary reading are on TalisAspire and will be released from 1st August.

You should also check the selected bibliographies often found after the critical introduction in each novel.


Exam - This is a link to the past exam papers so you can get a sense of what is expected.

Lectures from previous years are now available on moodle via self-enrolement

Sample 1st-class Essays:

1. Landscape

2. Tess and Wuthering Heights

3. Female Relationships

4. Getting On C.19th Lit

5. Foreign Spaces